Thursday, December 22, 2011

Out With the Old and In With the New

As 2011 comes slowly to a close, I thought it would be a worthwhile venture to look at all of the things that my family and I accomplished this year, as well as take a look at what 2012 may have in store for us.

Note: I do not have time to put links to all of these events, but if you would like to read more about them please check out the archives on the right.)

-In March, I received an amazing birthday present, a fitness evaluation, from my wife.  The process was informative, and I continue to use much of the information I learned from my appointment.

-In April, Katie and I ran with my sister in the Illinois Marathon Relay.  It was our first experience participating in a big race atmosphere.  While somewhat intimidating, I think we all really enjoyed our time.  We performed well and couldn't be happier with our finish!

-In May, we officially became a Racing Home as Katie, the kids, and I all participated in the Kirby Derby.  I had a new 10K PR, and a spark for running was lit for my children!

-Most of the summer was spent preparing for the Quad City Half Marathon.  I experienced a weight loss roadblock and pinched nerve in my back.  I spent a lot of time out on the road training.  But in all, it was a fun and exciting summer journey.

-In September, I suffered through my first half marathon.  I finished the race, but did not meet my goal time.  While initially disheartened, I have recognized the error of my ways and am determined to do better the next time.

-In October, I ran in my first trail race, the Allerton Trail Run.  I ran well, and enjoyed the change of pace from my regular road running.

-I spent a couple of months working on my overall fitness with some simple crossfit exercises, which have certainly done the job.  Along the way, I ran a sub-30 second 200m dash and have done more pull-ups than ever in my entire life!

-Katie, my sister, and I have agreed to once again run the Illinois Marathon Relay.  This year we have decided to include our 18yo cousin, also named Katie.  We hope her youthful exuberance will help to elevate our performance.

-My 5yo son has determined he would like to run his first 5K in this year's Kirby Derby.  He has had a couple of training runs, but he continues to be anxious for preparation, as he will ask me every so often, "When are we going to run again?"

-I did not participate in any bike rides in 2011.  In fact, I felt as though I was cheating on my bike, Roxanne, with all of the time that I spent running last year.  I am committed to change in the new year.  I would like to participate in the Sangamon Valley Bike Ride in May, as well as the Bike MS ride later in the summer.  I am hopeful for good weather, as the Bike MS ride would still constitute the furthest 2-day ride of my life.

-I would also like to train a bit more with my swimming because I would like to participate in my first triathlon.  The Fighting Illini Triathlon Club hosts a sprint triathlon in late September/early October.  I like the idea that it would be a local race and the swim for this particular event is only 300m.  I am determined to work my way up to that.

-I would once again like to participate in the Allerton Trail Run.  It is a unique race in one of my most treasured places.  Honestly, I would like to make sure that I never miss this race again!

-Finally, I would like to try another half marathon, improving upon my performance in 2011.  Some folks I know are talking about hosting a half in Galesburg, where I grew up.  I would really like to run in that race!   Galesburg is dead flat!  if I can avoid all of the trains, I think I could really improve upon my time under those conditions! 

As we enter into the holiday season, the opportunity to write any posts will be limited.  So from my family to yours, "Have a Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah and a safe, happy New Year!"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Indian Summer Run

When I woke up for my run last Saturday, it was 17 degrees out with a wind chill of 10!  I bundled up with nearly every piece of gear that I had.  I had my stocking cap and gloves on and I pulled up the hood of my sweatshirt and cinched it tight.  By mile 5, ice was caked onto my beard and moustache and the tears from my watery eyes were freezing on my cheeks!

When I woke up this morning, 5 days later, it was 59 degrees out!  I ran in shorts and had no use for my stocking cap.  I wore my long sleeve compression shirt, but was actually hot with it on! 

Weather in central Illinois can change frequently, but such a dramatic change was disorienting.  However, I had a great run!  There was a slight breeze out of the south which made the trip out a little cooler and more difficult.  But as I turned around, I had the wind at my back and a couple of times I felt like I was really flying.  Overall, my time was better than I had expected, 5 miles in 36:30, and certainly better than I had been doing. 

It was great weather for running and I was very appreciative for the mild temps!  It may be awhile before I can run in weather so nice.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

All I Want for Christmas

'Tis the season to spout off about all the things that you want.  While I am pretty sure all of the gifts have been purchased, it is never too late to drop a few subtle hints.

1.  First and foremost, I want world peace.  My children and I pray for world peace every night; every Sunday that I am able to I light a candle at church as my additional prayer for world peace.  It sounds naive, but I just can't believe that we still live in a world where evil people can rise to positions of power and influence under the banner of ignorance and intolerance.  And in retaliation, all sides, "righteous" or "evil", send other people's sons and daughters to fight their battles.

2. In a very distant second, I would like Fat Cyclist's new book.  It is titled Comedian Mastermind: The Best of, 2005-2007.  The title is pretty self-explanatory, but if you have not taken the opportunity to visit the Fatcylcist website, I highly recommend that you do so...right now!  Fatty (mild-mannered, alter ego: Elden Nelson)  is hilarious.  He is able to take his own unique, comedic approach to a wide variety of subjects.  Seriously, this guy writes diatribes about cycling that even a novice cyclist such as myself can follow, and often openly laugh at.  This first book covers the early years before his wife Susan began a renewed battle with cancer, a battle that would eventually take her life.  The money that Fatty makes on this first book goes to the publishing expense of writing his coup de grace, The Cancer Caretaker's Companion.  So, when you buy this for me, you can feel good about your purchase, knowing that it is going to a greater cause!

3. I could really use some new running gear.  The items soon to be mentioned will soon become needs, rather than wants, but I thought it would be worth mentioning before the situation gets critical.  As usual, I need a new pair of running shoes.  I have not completely worn through the sole my shoes, but I am really close!  I figure these shoes have more than a thousand miles on them, the tread is nearly gone, and the whites of the insole have began to appear near the toes.  In the next couple of months I will wear completely through the insole; that does not work well in the winter snow!  Next, I have been running in the same compression and running shorts for over 2 years.  Further, I never purchased these items in the first place, but instead procured them from the lost and found at my old job after they had been left behind for months.  Which is secondary to the fact that both shorts have seen better days.  Especially the compression shorts that are showing signs of overuse as I am wearing holes in very uncomfortable areas!

4. I would like some financial assistance with registration expenses for runs and races.  Because of a lack of fiscal means, I participate in very few races every year, and the ones that I do participate in are carefully scrutinized for their value.  As an example, I signed up to run the half marathon in the Quad Cities last year because at $45 it was far cheaper than any half marathon in the Chicago area.  Additionally, the locale decreased my cost as I was able to stay at my parents home the night before (bonus: I could eat my parents food. Thanks Mom and Dad!).  Certainly I could run for a charity at nearly free of charge, but as I would be contacting the same friends and family to donate to the charity, I figure it would be less expensive if they just gave their money to me.

5.  I really want to run a sub-1:40 half marathon and a sub-20 minute 5K.  Much like my first request, I am pretty sure that no one person in particular could give this to me, but I thought it would be worth mentioning just in case Santa can work up some Christmas magic!

6.  Lastly, I want all of my family and friends to have a safe,enjoyable holiday season.  I hope that you all have time to appreciate the things that we have.  And in an effort to bring a little Peace to our World, remember and be kind to the folks who are not as fortunate as ourselves!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

There has been so much going on; it is hard to know where to start!

First off, I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!  I monitored my eating when I could and got in 2 great runs.  One of the runs was with 2 of my closest friends from home.  I have known Brian and Matt almost my entire life, and I was so excited to get the chance to run with them.  It is amazing to think about how far we all have come, starting at virtually the same spot, and ending up with many of the same values and interests.  When I proposed going for a run early Thanksgiving morning, there was almost no doubt that we were all going to be there.  It was so enjoyable running through familiar areas, catching up on our lives, and reminiscing about "the old days".

Matt had brought along a couple of friends, one of which, Nick Pigg, is the owner/operator of a shoe and fitness store in Galesburg, Go_Outside_and_Play.  It was interesting to hear some insight from Nick about running and fitness in Galesburg.  Turns out that Nick, Matt, and some others are organizing a half marathon in Galesburg in June!  I have already signed up on the mailing list and look forward to running my second half marathon in the town I grew up in!

Next, I did not meet my weight loss goal of losing 10lbs before Thanksgiving; I only lost 6.  I had been working pretty hard and I thought for sure I was going to make it.  However, I decided go for some "hill repeats" on a Sunday in order to strengthen my hill running.  When I woke up that morning, I was not feeling quite right, but I headed out anyway.  Finding a decent hill in central Illinois is difficult, but I warmed up with a 1.5 mile jog to the golf course where I knew there were a couple of decent hill to train on.  I finally scoped out the hill that I thought would be good for me.  The first couple of runs up the hill went well.  The distance was very short, probably 100 yards or so, but the incline was good.  After about 4 trips up and down the hill, I noticed that my hamstring was feeling a little tight.  Ever since I started doing sprints, lunges, and squats, having tight hammies had become the norm, so I thought I could just run through the pain.  On my sixth trip up the hill, I would swear I felt a snap and a hot shooting pain in my hamstring.  I immediately stopped, called an end to the hill repeats, and attempted to jog home.  The problem was I couldn't even jog without being in pretty significant pain.  I ended up walking most of the way home. Which felt really weird because, I know this is going to sound like Forrest Gump, for the most part anywhere I am going, I am running.  Walking that mile and a half back home felt very foreign.
I think the hamstring pull might have been because I was getting sick, because by that afternoon I had a pretty nasty virus.  I had the chills, the sweats, body aches, and nausea.  It lasted for a few days and I ended up taking a week off of working out.  Ergo, I did not lose the remaining 4 pounds before Thanksgiving.

The hammie still gives me some trouble, but nothing significant.  I did cause me to re-evaluate my workout routine.  I had been going pretty hard for a few weeks, and I think I may have pushed things a little too hard.  I completed my goal of running a 200m dash in less than 30 seconds, plus you know, I pulled a hamstring, so I have decided to not do any sprints for awhile.  I am still going to the playground and doing my pull-ups and other body resistance exercises, but I am just incorporating that into some longer, slower runs.  I know I am going to have to get back into the hill repeats if I want to do better in the distance running, but I am going to give my leg a few weeks to fully heal.  I still would like to lose the remaining 4 pounds and get below 185 before Christmas, but multiple holiday celebrations may throw a wrench into those plans.  My ultimate goal is to keep working out and not gain any weight.

Lastly, I have entered into a contest to receive free marathon and/or triathlon training for a year.  Coach Jennifer_Harrison is offering one full year of training for no charge at all.  Now, I have entered to win probably a hundred fitness and health swag items, but none of them quite as cool as this.  The only problem is that it scares the shit out of me to think about actually winning this thing.  The time commitment would be significant, but the thought of running a marathon in the next year, plus having the coaching to perform well, is intoxicating!

Anyway, that is all I have; it felt like a lot!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Am Not Perfect!

I know, I know, it comes as a surprise to me too.  But it is true; I am not perfect.  I have a lot of flaws.

Sometimes I eat too much.  Other times I obsess about eating less.  Sometimes I do not workout hard enough.  Other times I push myself too far, too fast.  Sometimes I don't care about the scale.  Other times I fret about every ounce. 

Most importantly, sometimes I forget to tell my wife what an amazing wife, friend, and mother she is.  Sometimes I focus my attention on the things I think I have to do instead of focusing my attention on doing things with my children.  Sometimes I don't finish projects around the house.  Sometimes I don't say what I am thinking, and sometimes I don't think before saying.

I am not perfect; I don't know if I ever will be.  But I am going work damn hard to do better!